Growing up in South Africa, most of us still have fond memories of a Mother or Grandmother that could make this traditional sweet treat. I still remember eating them at “church bazaars” or school bake sales. Traditionally made by the Cape Malay, the dough was made more in the shape of a small oval cake or dumpling, deep-fried and then dipped into ice-cold syrup and then dipped or rolled in dried coconut. The recipe includes spices such as cinnamon, aniseed, cardamom and also ginger or lemon.
Adapted by the Dutch, Afrikaners then later braided the dough, giving it it’s characteristic look of a plait that we know of today.
The word “Koeksister”, is from the dutch language “koekje + suster” and translated as “cookie”.It was first named by the Malay as Koe’sister, suggesting that the treat was enjoyed by a group of woman while having a bit of a gossip…
As this recipe takes a lot of time, you will have to put a day or at least a few hours aside. Most of us do not attempt to make it ourselves and find it easier to run to the shop to buy some. The difficulty level is a six out of ten, making this an easier task that you would think.
Follow the step-by-step procedure and be proud that you can also make this very popular South African confection.
Preparation time: 1 hourCooking time: 1 hourResting time: 2 hours Makes: 5-6 dozenIngredients:
4 Cups (1000ml) Sugar
1 ½ Cup (375ml) Water
2 Pieces Cinnamon sticks
2 Star Aniseeds
4 Cardamom seeds
30ml Fine ginger
5 ml Lemon juice
2 ml Cream of tarter
Make two separate bowls of syrup: One with ginger, lemon and spices and another with 30ml of Rosewater or Orange blossom water and spices.
1kg (4 x 250ml) Cake flour
1 tsp (5ml) Salt
4 tsp (20ml) Baking powder
4 tbsp (60ml) butter or margarine
375ml milk or water
Method for Syrup:
Add the sugar, spices and cream of tarter in a saucepan and add the water. Let the sugar dissolve inside the water before allowing the syrup to come to a boil.
Just after the syrup came to a boil, remove from the stove and place inside the freezer for 30 minutes – 1 hour.
Method for making the dough:
Sift the dry ingredients in a bowl and rub the butter into the flour mixture with your fingertips.
Beat the eggs until foamy and add the milk or water into the mixture.
Add the milk mixture by cutting it into the flour mixture with a knife. Soft dough will start to form. Place the dough in a bowl, knead it lightly for about 2-5 minutes, cover with cling film and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
4. Lightly flour the surface and the rolling pin. Place the dough in the middle of the surface and roll out the dough ‘till about 5mm thick.
5. Cut the dough into a rectangular shape, and then into 8 other rectangular shapes. On each one of them, make two cuts in the length but do not cut them right through and leave them attached at one end. There should be three fingers to plait.
6. Pleat the three strips and once you have braided the dough press the ends tightly together.
7. Heat the oil to 180 -185°C. Add about 3 Koeksisters at a time and deep-fry them each until a golden brown.
8. Remove the syrup from the fridge and then remove the Koeksisters from the oil, allowing the oil to drip from it first. Place them into the ice-cold syrup, holding them down below in the syrup until they seeped up as much syrup as possible.
5. Place them onto a cooling rack and allow them to drip dry.
6. Put them into a sealed container in the fridge. Koeksisters can be frozen and easily defrosted before being served.
Be careful not to use too hot oil as the will burn on the outside of the Koeksister but will still be raw on the inside. If the oil is too cold, the dough will just seep up all the oil making it go “soggy”.
Put the bowl of ice-cold syrup onto another bowl of ice, allowing it stay cold while working OR make two bowls of syrup, placing one in the fridge while attending to the other, and swop them after making a few Koeksisters. This way, you’re preventing the syrup from heating up.
Rosewater can be bought from most supermarkets and baking shops. Try another water called Orange-Blossom or Orange- Flower, which can be bought from Chinese supermarkets.